Living at the English Village was interesting. It had this beautiful campus that was set up to look like a western style village, with gorgeous mountains in the background. Actually living there though was a lot like living back in college dorms.
There were five buildings for teachers for this school, and some people from its other campus in Nowon lived here too. You meet people very quickly from working with them all day and then essentially living with them (though not really – you can just lock your door and be alone, but that’s boring).
Working here was very different too, I was surprised at how casual it was, ripped jeans and hoodies were acceptable, and you would hear people swearing in the office regularly like it wasn’t a big deal.
Due to how it was set up, there were various people coming and going. There was a morning shift that started at nine, an “after school” shift that started at the time around noon, and an evening shift that started at one-thirty (though sometimes noon if there were kindies).
English Village Work Day
We each had theses colourful schedules that only kind of made sense – even to the people who’d been there a few months found them confusing. We would meet the kids (and by kids I meant anyone deemed a student ages 2-20ish) in the auditorium. They sat in lines in their “teams.” We then lead our team to our classroom, which could be anything from a situation class like bank or post office, to dance, music, “science,” dodgeball, or a quiz show game, and anything in between. More often than not, I got a class that I had seen before, or thankfully one I had already taught before, or a group activity where there is usually more than one teacher.
Every so often though a class will show up that you’ve never heard of and you’ll just be expected to teach it – so you will get excellent at winging it. Also, something that is both a good and bad thing is that the kids are there for a day or two (at most ten days during camp times) and then gone. So if you get a group of kids you don’t particularly enjoy, you may only have one class with them and then never again. It is unfortunate that when you connect with a kid, and you may never get to teach them again. I am, however, a big fan of the lack of textbooks or grammar that’s taught. Here’s a clip from ‘fashion show’ class where one of my favourite students made himself a wolf:
Pros & Cons of Seoul English Village:
Overall, I loved my time at SEV, but there were certainly ups and downs.
You apply directly to the school, and because it is managed by a large company (YBM) you have no problems with being paid on time.
The hierarchy is a little unclear. There’s the person who hired you, and there’s your head teacher. There’s the schedulers, the programmers, and all the other teachers. The teachers all started at different times and have different experience levels. Then there is, of course, the school director who is everyone’s boss, except for those who are from YBM. Also, should there be any issue (teaching related or otherwise) it is very confusing to know who to go to.
You get to meet some amazing people. Like mentioned above, you live and work with these people. There are a lot of them, so you’re not exactly going to become best friends with everyone, but you’ll make some connections that last.
There is bound to be some drama or awkwardness. Not everyone is going to like each other. There was more than one time that I witnessed some arguments both in and out of the office.
You live on site. This was so ideal for me. No commutes whatsoever. You can roll out of bed a few minutes before work.
There is no work-life separation. Because the days off are sporadic, you could be off on a day there are students there. So even to walk down to the laundry room you have to have your teacher face on. Or be okay with students running up to you in your sweatpants with a bag full of dirty clothes.
This one only applies to first-time teachers. You get paid a pretty average salary for typically less work than hagwons. Although you’d work similar hours, you don’t deal with parents, you hardly make report cards, and your lesson planning is minimal. Also, in non-peak seasons, you’ll get a lot of “programming time.” This is just sitting in the office and making class materials.
There aren’t many holidays. You may even have to work on Christmas, or New Years – I worked both! While you do get extra pay for this, but to some, it’s not worth it. You only get ten holidays per year (plus maybe some national holidays), where people working in public schools or some hagwons you may get a month or a whole summer off. Taking additional holidays during non-peak season sometimes could happen, but they would be unpaid.